Reclaim your workday

by Mik Kersten, February 6th, 2008

Over the past few decades the amount of information available at our fingertips has steadily grown. We have become so overloaded with hundreds of emails, thousands of files and millions of lines of code that we often spend more time repeatedly looking for information than getting work done. Its time to reclaim our workday. Starting today, you will be able to use the Task-Focused Interface for managing all of your work. For Eclipse users, this means the productivity benefits of Mylyn now extend to your file and web browsing activities. For all those who have asked for Mylyn but don’t have the luxury of spending their day in Eclipse, Mylyn’s benefits will now be available to you through a standalone RCP application.

Planet Eclipse readers: after this announcement, posts that are not specifically about Eclipse or Mylyn won’t be tagged "Eclipse" and as such won’t show up in the aggregator. Subscribe to this blog if you’re interested in staying up-to-date on Tasktop.

Video for Eclipse and Mylyn users   Video for Windows users

Just over one year ago, two key events marked the evolution of the Task-Focused Interface:

  • Monday, Dec 11th, 2006: We released Mylyn 1.0 which provided task-focused tools for programmers along with extensible APIs.
  • Friday, Dec 15th, 2006: I defended my PhD Thesis, which validated the productivity benefits of this new approach, via field studies of programmers using Mylyn and knowledge workers using the first prototype of the Task-Focused Desktop (Tasktop).

The chronic multitasking leading up to that week was grueling and would not have been possible without the tool support that we are releasing today. Mylyn was our first major step away from the information-centric desktop metaphor, towards the the user-centric task metaphor. Tasktop 1.0 marks the next step in the evolution of the Task-Focused Interface and the beginning of making this new way of working available to everyone.

The people that made Tasktop 1.0 happen, from left to right are: Steffen Pingel, Gail Murphy, Shawn Minto, Mik Kersten (me), Wesley Coelho, Leo Dos Santos (blinking) and Robert Elves. Between Tasktop 1.0, the Mylyn 2.x releases and upcoming 3.0, creating connectors for our partners and now the very ambitious SpringSource Tool Suite, I often get asked how we manage to do it all. Here’s a hint–all of our work is done with Tasktop and Mylyn, and we don’t use email for collaboration. With the tremendous productivity increase that is possible when everyone is focused, your small team can feel more like an army. In upcoming blog posts, I’ll list some of our tips on how to get the most out of task-focused work and collaboration.

Read the full release story on InfoQ

Download Tasktop…

Watch Tasktop webinars

About Mik Kersten

Dr. Mik Kersten is the CEO of Tasktop Technologies, creator of the Eclipse Mylyn open source project and inventor of the task-focused interface. At Tasktop, Mik sets the strategic direction of the company as well as drives many of Tasktop's key partnerships and key customers accounts. He created Mylyn and the task-focused interface during his PhD in Computer Science at the University of British Columbia. Mik has been an Eclipse committer since 2002, is a 3-time elected member of the Eclipse Board of Directors and serves on the Eclipse Architecture Council. Mik's thought leadership on task-focused collaboration and improving the software economy makes him a popular speaker at software conferences, and he was voted a JavaOne Rock Star speaker in 2008 and 2009.

15 Responses to “Reclaim your workday”

  1. Jason Schloer Says:

    Can’t wait to try this out. I’ve been very impressed with Mylyn so far and this looks like a great addition.

  2. Rolf Kleef Says:

    Congratulations, Mik and everyone! Nice to see some faces for the names in the issue tracker as well :-) I’m still getting to grips with the (possibility to) change of the way I work, and plan to read more about the conceptual foundations as well in your PhD.

    (And still struggling with the trade-off between Firefox-with-dozens-of-addons and focused-browsing-based-on-IE)

  3. Jon Chase Says:

    Great release!

    Just one note – the audio on the movies is rather harsh – I almost stopped watching the movies b/c the constant audio clipping hurt my ears.

  4. Mik Says:

    Rolf: thanks for the kind words. I tried to convince my thesis committee that “less is more” with writing too, but still had to write well over 100 pages, so please feel free to ask for any summaries or clarifications of the material there. And yes, while we’ve tried to make the learning curve as gentle as possible, and make sure that we don’t take any of the old way of working away (e.g. you can always unfocus the Navigator or minimize it and only pop up via Navigate -> Quick Context View when needed) it can still take time to migrate your way of splitting up work to be more task-centric than file/page/app centric. We’ve been doing the other for so long, that even though it’s often very awkward we have all sorts of coping strategies already.

    What I’ve been noticing is that after mastering it for yourself, having others use either Mylyn and/or Tasktop can be a big help in moving to this new way of working, because it means that your other team members think in terms of tasks. The fact that the people in our company who don’t program now work in Tasktop really enabled us to go to the next level of streamlined collaboration. That said, we still have to frequently interact over email with people external to the company, which is why we made sure to provide a bridge between tasks and email (currently for Microsoft Outlook only). If you have any other thoughts how we can make the learning curve easier and reduce your friction it would be great to chat about them.

    Regarding Firefox add-ons, we have to figure out whether to prioritize the support of Firefox and add-on embedding. While most of the world doesn’t, all of us at Tasktop used to browse with Firefox. What we realized is that there was no critical add-on we were using for daily work that couldn’t be provided by some OS widget or other mechanism. There are of course all of the fun add-ons and useful things like the Web Develorep toolbar, which is why we made it so easy to pop into Firefox when needed (far right button on browser -> Open in External Browser). For core things like del.icio.ous we plan on providing direct support.

    Jon: thanks! Yes, something went wonky with the audio track. I will try to adjust the levels today and post here if I can fix it. Thanks for prompting me to do this.

    If anyone else has any questions or comments about the tool or foundations please do send them on, either by posting here or using one of our community channels if you prefer:

  5. John Head Says:

    I am very excited by what I see here, but also a bit disappointed with no Lotus Notes support. With Notes 8 being built on Eclipse, I figured this would have been the no brainer. Combine Tasktop, Notes 8, and Lotus Symphony and I could do everything I need to do without ever leaving the Eclipse world. I would encourage you to look into this. The whole world does not use Outlook.

  6. Vineet Says:

    Congrats on the announcement… This looks really useful. I definitely need to give this a shot.

    I heavily use Delicious, FogBugz, Google Docs, and Remember The Milk. Any notes on how well does TaskTop work with them?


  7. Mik Says:

    > Great release!
    > Just one note – the audio on the movies is rather harsh – I almost stopped
    > watching the movies b/c the constant audio clipping hurt my ears.

    Jon: it turns out that Camtasia has a neat option to remove this kind of clipping, simply by telling it the gender of your voice and clicking a button. Earlier today we pushed new videos with improved audio.

    > I am very excited by what I see here, but also a bit disappointed with no Lotus Notes support.

    John: It’s great to see the see interest from Lotus Notes users. I just saw another interesting blog entry from a Lotus user interested in Tasktop integration. There will be some technical challenges with this because Lotus is neither open source nor a distribution of the Eclipse platform that Tasktop depends on. But we are very interested to hear more from Notes users on how they would use Tasktop. Prompted by this, we have just set up a survey to help us prioritize integration, so please vote for Lotus.

  8. Mik Says:

    Thanks Vineet! Google Docs we have some support for already and you can expect it to continue to improve in the upcoming releases. Regarding the others, it would be great if you could fill out the Integrations Survey. there has been quite a lot of interest in and I hope that we can prioritize it before too long. Most Mylyn connectors should work within Tasktop, and there’s a FogBugz connector listed on the Mylyn Extensions. If you have trouble using it with Tasktop please consider filing a a new bug. It also sounds like there is a Remember The Milk connector in the works.

  9. Mik Says:

    There’s an interesting debate about the Task-Focused Interface happening on the InfoQ interview posting.

  10. Mik Says:

    There’s also some interesting discussion in the Tasktop release TSS thread.

  11. Web 2.0 Announcer Says:

    Reclaim your workday with Tasktop 1.0…

    [...]Starting today, you will be able to use the Task-Focused Interface for managing all of your work. For Eclipse users, this means the productivity benefits of Mylyn now extend to your file and web browsing activities. For all those who have asked fo…

  12. Steve Says:

    Love the way this looks. Has anyone tried to use it with other integrated Eclipse plugin suites such as MyEclipse or JBoss Studio?

  13. Mik Says:

    Thanks Steve. It should work with all Eclipse 3.3 and 3.4 based distributions that follow platform conventions. If it doesn’t work with your distribution please let us know:

  14. Gabe Says:

    What is required to associate web-browsing with a context? Is this supported in Mylyn 2.3?

  15. Mik Says:

    Mylyn is limited to associating programming activity with a task context. For associating web and file browsing activity you need Tasktop, which builds on Mylyn. To learn more watch the short overview video:

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